Penn Manor School District has one of the most lenient tobacco policies compared to other districts including Lampeter Strasburg, Hempfield and Manheim Township.
“Our policy does not crush you right off the bat but you are aware of what’s coming,” said Jason Hottenstein, high school resource officer.
There are simply bigger fish to fry at Penn Manor. That is the reason Penn Manor administrators use when referring to the school district’s tobacco policy.
The punishment at Penn Manor for the use of, possession of, or intent to see of tobacco policy is a $10 to $25 fine, with a letter sent home to parents on the first offense. The third offense results in a $25 fine, a parent conference and a three day out-of-school suspension.
Hempfield School District imposes a fine up to $50 and five days of in-school suspension. By the second offense, the district calls for ten days of in-school suspension.
For a Hempfield student, the punishment for the third offense includes a recommendation for expulsion to the school board.
Hottenstein believes the current policy that Penn Manor holds is the most fair to the students.
“The only reason I think ours is fair is because there are so many kids that do it, it would be hard to justify giving 5 days (referring to Hempfield’s policy),” Hottenstein said.
Creating a policy similar to Hempfield’s could be challenging at times, Hottenstein noted. “We’d have to have ISS (in-school suspension) in our auditorium.”
Manheim Township School District enforces a $15 fine and three days of in-school suspension for a first offense. The second offense doubles the fine to $30 and includes five days of in-school suspension. A third offense also includes a $30 fine, but changes the in-school suspension to ten days. With the third offense, the district will consider expulsion or a second form of excessive punishment by the Discipline Committee of the Board.
Living Word Academy contained one of the strictest policies in the county, according to their student and faculty handbook: “In the event of use or possession of alcohol or tobacco, the course of action could include suspension, probation, and/or recommendation for expulsion.”
The school also fully explains to its students that they can expect to have their locker, vehicle or person be searched if there is any suspicion. If the administration would find something, authorities are notified immediately, according to the handbook.
At Lampeter Strasburg, the first offense regarding tobacco results in three days of in-school suspension and a choice between a series of after school detentions, or a three-day tobacco education program. The second offense brings a five day in-school suspension and a parent conference. Finally, a third and final offense would result in ten days of out of school suspension and a recommendation to the school board for expulsion.
Two Penn Manor High School secretaries estimate that as many as one-third of Penn Manor students smoke cigarettes.
Another administrator at Penn Manor, Eric Howe, had this to say: “You would be surprised how money out of the pocket is a deterrent.”
“I don’t think five days suspension will stop them from smoking, no policy is in place to deter them from smoking. Once that addiction to the nicotine, they won’t leave them at home, they won’t make it,” said Hottenstein.
Whether or not Penn Manor will follow in the footsteps of other nearby school districts and increase punishments regarding tobacco is still unknown. Until then, Penn Manor smokers will not have the same punishments that many other schools in the area have enacted.
By Tyler Barnett